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West Kingston Enquiry: It was my decision to use mortars - Major Saunders

Published:Monday | June 22, 2015 | 12:32 PMLivern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

Former army chief Major General Stewart Saunders this morning revealed that it was entirely his decision to use mortars during the May 2010 operations in Tivoli Gardens.

Testifying before the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry, Saunders said there was a need to keep women and children behind closed doors.

He says this was based on experience gained from previous operations in which women and children were used by gunmen as human shields.

In addition, he says the military wanted to disorient gunmen who were manning barricades that blocked entry to the community.

 

Saunders defended the use of the mortars, saying no women or children were among the more than 70 persons killed in the operation aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher Dudus Coke.

In addition, he says there weren't as many casualties in the security forces which could have occurred if the mortars were not used.

The retired army chief also insisted that the mortars were fired under what he described as observed and controlled conditions in specific areas.

 

Former JDF Chief of Staff, General Stewart Saunders